Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020)

Rates: * * * * 1/2

Why Did I Watch It: New movie that had rave reviews on the festival circuit.

Cast, crew, etc

Autumn is a 17 year old high school girl from small town Pennsylvania. She likes music, she has a bit of a chip on her shoulder, she is moody; AKA: she is like every 17 year old who has ever lived.

Then she finds out she is pregnant. And trying to arrange an abortion puts her in a very difficult situation; short of money, unable to tell her parents, obstacles and barriers of every kind erect themselves in her way. She cobbles together what dollars she can and runs away to New York with her cousin, where abortion laws are more liberal, the two girls enduring a couple of very tough days on the streets while they wait for assistance to become available.

This riveting, harrowing, very raw drama hits home like a sledgehammer.

Right from the opening scene, where the main character gets up on stage at the school talent show, and sings an acoustic rock song, in a cute and nerdy home made glam outfit, looking uncertain, no one caring about all the effort she had put in, I knew this was going to destroy me. And, oh boy.

The two young leads – Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder – are nothing short of sensational; quiet, unflashy, performances that seem entirely authentic. Their two days on the means streets of NYC are so tense and nerve jangling, the acting draws you right into their plight. Watching the girls lug their tatty suitcase around, up and down stairs, on and off subways, their faces blank but also hopeful, predatory creeps watching them always, while they try and find somewhere to sit for a minute, is an experience so heart rending I almost had to stop the movie. It is upsetting in a way that is very hard to distance yourself form.

Flanigan, as Autumn, has THE standout scene; having kept her composure through a number of difficult situations, she breaks down completely as a kindly counsellor takes her through a required questionaire:

Has she been forced to perform sexually against her will: yes.

Has a sexual partner beaten or abused her: yes.

It goes on.

Devastating in a way that only things that you know happen, all the time, in real life can be.

Shot guerilla style on location, and featuring some striking 16mm photography, this is a very powerful and important movie. A gut punch featuring a number of rising talents.

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